New to the Saturday Arlington Farmers Market is a great tasting tent from Willow Restaurant (4301 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA). The chef on duty makes little bites based on fresh ingredients at the market.
Today's was Roland Farms (Plains, VA) Fried Green "Eggplant Parmesan: with Smoked Tomato Butter and Fresh Basil. Yes, it was as good as it sounds. They were showcasing both the local farmer, their restaurant AND sharing the recipe (below).
Not sure that I will be breaking out a Fry Baby anytime soon at home, so luckily the chef said they are planning on adding these to their bar menu next week. I just learned that Willow has $5 "Willow Worthy" Bar Snacks each and every night. It's definitely the best restaurant in the Ballston neighborhood, so nice to see they have a bar menu that's easier on this recessionista's budget! ;)
ROLAND FARMS FRIED GREEN "EGGPLANT PARMESAN" WITH SMOKED TOMATO BUTTER AND FRESH BASIL
2 green eggplant, sliced 1/8' thick
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 t. freshly picked thyme
3 cups buttermilk
3 quarts canola oil
kosher salt, to taste
1. Slice the eggplant and lay it out on a paper towel lined sheet tray. Sprinkle each side with a small amount of salt. Allow the eggplant to stand for about 4 hours (this will allow the bitter liquid to be purged from the eggplant*)
2. Place the panko, parmesan, and thyme in a food processor and pulse until incorporated.
3. Place the buttermilk in a bowl and whisk the egg into it.
4. Blot the eggplant slices and place into the buttermilk. Allow the eggplant to marinate for about an hour and a half.
5. Dredge each piece of eggplant into the bread crumb mixture and coat evenly. Reserve.
6. Heat the canola oil. Drop the eggplant in batches and cook until golden brown.
7. Season with salt immediately and drain on paper towels.
8. Serve with smoked tomato butter and fresh basil. (they didn't give recipe for that, so guess we are 1) on our own 2) have a reason to go to Willow 3) need to flirt with the chef to get the recipe for this. I can tell you that they had it in a squeeze bottle to drizzle. It was an intense red color, so maybe was made with butter and a tomato paste? What do you think? How would you make it?)
* Um, I never knew that. No wonder eggplant prepared in restaurants is so much better than when I make it.
NEXT WEEK'S WILLOW TASTING: Roasted Fall Beets with Sherry Vinaigrette, Goat's Cheese & Candied Walnuts, October 17